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Gov’t creating conducive environment to support innovation, Ruto says

President William Ruto has said that the government is creating a conducive environment that supports innovation in the country.

He said programmes such as the Presidential Innovation Challenge and Award, the Hustler Fund, the Youth Enterprise Fund and the Women Fund play a pivotal role in providing funding for ideas, talents and other ventures.

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Additionally, he said, the government’s investments in infrastructure, including projects like Jitume Labs and the transformation of Youth Empowerment Centres into innovation hubs, will further bolster the innovation ecosystem.

“As a government, we are committed to innovative mindsets across all facets of our administration,” he said.

Speaking during the Innovation Challenge and Awards ceremony at State House, Nairobi, on Tuesday, he said the government is keen on expanding opportunities for Kenyan youth.

“The Presidential Innovation Award stands as a testament to our commitment to supporting young people and fostering their entrepreneurial spirit, thus contributing to job creation and wealth generation,” he said.

He noted that the 2023 pilot programme, which was part of the government’s Talanta Hela initiative, focused on youth, their talents and their ability to create impactful solutions for society.

“Innovative ideas create start-ups and the knowledge economy creates limitless possibilities,” he said.

To further enhance innovation, he said the government will adopt tools like the Global Innovation Index to measure and report the country’s progress accurately.

“We will also continue to develop data-driven policies and benchmark our efforts internationally,” he said.

He urged development partners and the private sector to support the government in expanding the programme to enable more youth and innovators to participate and benefit.

“With increased collaboration by the private sector and development partners, we can propel our innovation ecosystem forward by providing valuable mentorship and experiences for our youth,” he said.

The Head of State commended the Kenya National Innovation Agency’s efforts in implementing the 10-year masterplan launched during the Kenya Innovation Week-Commonwealth Edition in November 2023.

“This plan guides our efforts in capacity development, funding access, infrastructure and policy,” he said.

President Ruto, however, said there was need to address critical areas within the Innovation Masterplan such as the Start-Up Bill, which is instrumental in enabling innovation.

“Stakeholder engagement is paramount in ensuring that proposed legislation reflects the diverse perspectives of our society,” he added.

Youth Affairs, Sports and Creative Economy Cabinet Secretary Ababu Namwamba said the awards aim to promote innovation as a drive for socio-economic development by fostering an entrepreneurial mindset and commercialization of Kenyan innovations.

He said the awards align with the key pillars of the Bottom-Up Economic Transformation Agenda.

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